Thursday, December 6, 2007

Vortex and Literature

This posting is the fourth, maybe fifth draft thereof, and I owe/blame it all on the tiny little vortex I'm in right now. I suppose it should be of some comfort that "when it rains, it pours," since that must mean good things also happen in droves. 

But mostly it's bewildering. I mean sure, getting my bike stolen, my myspace account hacked, and losing my hard drive in the same week is pretty bad, but last night, my friend Nate and I were talking about the Virginia Tech Shooting, and how society is so ______(fill in the blank) as to have already created offensive pornographic parodies of the shooter. I added that the event went from "tragedy" to "phenomenon" in a matter of days, leaving very little time for the nation to mourn, opting instead to deconstruct the media and race relations in some attempt at logical erasure.

Not two pauses after this heavy conversation did we start talking about where each of us wanted to go to in the eventuality that we left New York City. (Nate is finishing up his PhD and will be looking for academic jobs soon, so location is more of a crapshoot for him.)  He said, 
"If the only position available is in Omaha, that's where I'm going." To which I responded, "I hear Omaha is actually pretty awesome. It's like Portland (Oregon) ten years ago." We went on about how Omaha might actually be pretty rad.

I can't tell you how hard my jaw dropped when I read news of yesterday's mall shooting. Nate was pretty gobsmacked too.

Ironically, it's been almost 10 years since the horrifying Thurston High School shooting just outside of Eugene Oregon. Not quite Portland, I know, but the resemblance in history is kind of frightening.

Now, forgive my sudden veering of course but...
One nice thing about such vortexes as described above is that I, for one, felt compelled away from the computer. And once far enough away, I found I had a tall stack of books I had/wanted to read. And I think I've just broken a personal record - I'm counting over a thousand pages of lecture over the past few days.

The first book is more like an anecdote: Was She Pretty by Leanne Shapton.
Anyone with a Trojan Myth of an ex in their own past-ure (past + manure = pasture) or their current partner's, will appreciate this, as I had. But you'll also appreciate the book being torn to pieces by Marisha Pessl in The NY Times Book Review because yes, it sucks to have to live up to the pageantry of exes, but it also sucks to pick at nasty scabs.

Next, Kara Walker: My Complement, My Enemy, My Oppressor, My Love. (She has an exhibit up at The Whitney through February btw) As much belles lettres as monograph, "wow" is really the only reaction I had. 
Neuter or Naughty, wow. 
The End of Uncle Tom and the Grand Allegorical Tableau of Eva in Heaven, wow.
Letter From a Black Girl, wow.

At night I was reading the frequent victim of my name-dropping, Scott Westerfeld. I finished the third installment of his Uglies Trilogy, Specials, in a night.
He's a YA author, and it's funny, but only two books have every brought tears to my eyes. One was There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom by Louis Sachar (of subsequent Holes fame), also a YA novel; and here-mentioned Specials

After finishing Specials I couldn't fall asleep so I re-started The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman.

I also found myself bored enough to read Richard Russo's Empire Falls (which I bought after a lovely weekend in Camden, Maine, where he's from and writes about). Eighty pages was about all I could handle because it's about a divorcé who's nostalgic for his ex-wife (ibid: the first book about exes and you do the math).

Unfortunately, the next book I started reading (this one an assignment for a job), was a Japanese novel called Parallel, about...a...divorcé...nostalgic...for his ex-wife...sigh...I just can't get away from these guys, can I?

I figured if I was going to do this for money, I may as well do it in a good mood, so I put Parallel down for later post-coffee reading and picked up Kelly Link's Stranger Things Happen
and darnit if my heart didn't just go KLUNK right there. The first story, "Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose," is about a freaking dead husband pining over his now widowed wife, from the after life.

Vortex, people. Vortex. I've finally thrown in the towel and come back to the computer. 

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